Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.
On 17 February 2016,
the Landesarbeitsgericht Rheinland-Pfalz
delivered its highly anticipated decision in the appeal
proceedings between German goalkeeper Heinz Müller and his former employer,
German Bundesliga club Mainz 05.
The main legal debate revolved around the question (in general terms) whether
the use of a fixed term contract in professional football is compatible with
German and EU law.
In first instance (see
our earlier blog posts, here and here), the Arbeitsgericht Mainz had ruled that the
‘objective reasons’ provided in Section 14 (1) of the German
Part-time and Fixed-term Employment Act (Gesetz über Teilzeitarbeit und befristete
Arbeitsverträge, “TzBfG”), the national law implementing EU
Directive 1999/70/EC on fixed-term work, were not applicable
to the contract between Müller and Mainz 05 and therefore could not justify the
definite nature of that contract.
In its assessment the court devoted special attention to the objective reason
relating to the nature of the work, declining justifications based thereupon.
Tension rose and the verdict was soon labelled to be able to have Bosman-like
implications, if held up by higher courts.
The first part of the present blog article provided a
general introduction to the compatibility of fixed-term contracts in football
with Directive 1999/70/EC
(Directive). However, as the Member States of the European Union enjoy a
considerable discretion in the implementation of a directive, grasping the
impact of the Directive on the world of football would not be possible without considering
the national context. The recent ruling of the Arbeitsgericht Mainz (the lowest
German labour court; hereinafter the Court) in proceedings brought by a German
footballer Heinz Müller provides an important example in this regard. This second
part of the blog on the legality of fixed-term contract in football is devoted
to presenting and assessing the Court’s decision.
I. Facts and Procedure
Heinz Müller, the main protagonist of this case, was a goalkeeper
playing for 1.FSV Mainz 05 a club partaking to the German Bundesliga. More...
On 25 March 2015, the Labour Court of Mainz
issued its decision in proceedings brought by a German footballer,
Heinz Müller, against his (now former) club 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Mainz 05). The
Court sided with the player and ruled that Müller should have been employed by
Mainz 05 for an indefinite period following his 2009 three year contract with
the club which was subsequently extended in 2011 to run until mid-2014. The
judgment was based on national law implementing Directive 1999/70 on fixed-term
(Directive) with the latter being introduced pursuant to art. 155(2) TFEU (ex
art. 139(2) TEC). On the basis of this
article, European social partners’ may request a framework agreement which they
conclude to be implemented on the European Union (EU, Union) level by a Council
decision on a proposal from the Commission. One of the objectives of the framework
and therefore of the Directive, was to establish a system to prevent abuse
arising from the use of successive fixed-term employment contracts or
which lies at the heart of the discussed problem.